In 2017, the City of Cape Town awarded a lease to Cape Town City Sporting Club (Pty) LTD for exclusive use of the fields at Malta Park B and Hartleyvale A in Observatory. While the City claims to have advertised the lease (by way of an advertisement in a newspaper), the City never consulted the community nor local sports entities (including the existing primary users) about the lease, nor did it initiate any public participation process regarding plans for the two precincts, which should have been mandatory under the Municipal Systems Act. Malta Park B is zoned as Public Open Space (Open Space Zone 2) and Hartleyvale A as a Community Zone 1 (primarily for local community use). Hartleyvale and Malta Park have traditionally been used for sport but as public space.
The lease to Cape Town City Football Club represented a shift in the use of public space for private use. The first that the Observatory Community knew about the lease in 2017 was when iron fences appeared around the Malta Park fields and locks appeared that kept residents out and unable to use the fields. Soon enough, Cape Town City laid down astroturf on Malta Park B and closed it off from public access. These fields, which lie within the Two Rivers Urban Park, are part of a precinct whose official planning framework (currently the TRUP Contextual Framework Policy) sets the Park aside for Conservation, Rehabilitation and Management of the ecologically sensitive areas, Open Spaces and Culturally Significant (Heritage) sites in perpetuity. The awarding of a lease to a commercial football club within the park, without any public participation, runs completely contrary to the existing planning frameworks and the City’s legislative obligations.
The rental that the City has charged Cape Town City Football Club for use of the field amounts to 23 cents per m2 per month excluding VAT, a laughably small amount compared to what the City charges other commercial and non-commercial enterprises. For example, the OCA pays more than 10 times more per m2 per month to manage the Parking Area behind Spar at Pepper Square compared to what Cape Town City Football Club is expected to pay. The OCA manages the Pepper Square parking areas as a social enterprise, which currently running at a major loss due to COVID-19 restrictions and we are not a commercial venture making a profit from public land. In short, the City is effectively subsidising a private entity out of public funds to have exclusive access to fields at Hartleyvale and Malta Park.
This lease has come at some cost to amateur sporting codes. FC Kapstadt and other amateur clubs, who are mostly involved in Sports development for young people, have been displaced from fields they would have normally used because of the exclusive lease arrangements favouring Cape Town City Football Club. Despite verbal commitments from the City for a long-term lease on Hartleyvale Stadium A & D fields and the Club’s strenuous efforts to secure a lease for their operations, FC Kapstadt, unlike Cape Town City Football Club, have been unable to confirm their lease arrangements, despite having waited years for confirmation of what was agreed in meetings with the City.
This double standard on the part of the City, which professes on the one hand to want to use the Hartleyvale and Malta Park fields for the wider community, while on the other hand, signing away in secret deals a lease that give commercial entities exclusive rights at subsidised rates which disadvantages communities, is part of the opaque and non-transparent way in which decisions are made in the City regarding public resources. It is a deployment of public space to benefit private entities, not unlike the willingness of the City to make available up to 10 ha of public land to assist the River Club owners to build their huge and intrusive mixed -se behemoth development just across the way from Malta Park.
In fact, we suspect that the plans by Cape Town City FC to build a privately owned 10 000 seater stadium, which neither they nor the City have made public, are closely linked to the River Club Development. The City has issued public statements regarding the use of the Hartleyvale precinct for sports purposes but refuses to provide any details of its plans and has refused an OCA request for a participatory planning process for the Malta Park and Hartleyvale precincts.
The LEASE has EXPIRED! NO NEW LEASES WITHOUT CONSULTATION!!
We know that the lease to Cape Town City FC expired on the 31st December. City officials have not re-advertised the lease, nor have they given notice of any consultative process regarding this lease. If they have already concluded a lease with the Cape Town City FC , they have done so behind closed doors and in violation of the Municipal Services Act.
We are therefore calling on you as residents and businesses in Observatory to support this petition which demands
1. The City of Cape Town and its officials desist immediately from any negotiations in secret with the Cape Town City Football Club regarding lease arrangements for any fields in the Hartleyvale and Malta Park precincts.
2. The City of Cape Town and its officials commit publicly to consult with the local community and with amateur sports codes who make use of the field regarding the future of these fields and how they will be used, with maximum public access consistent with their zoning.
3. The City of Cape Town and its officials should stop punishing amateur sports clubs that promote youth development in poor communities while handing out leases behind closed doors to commercial clubs without appropriate participatory processes of engagement with relevant stakeholders.
4. The City of Cape Town and its officials should cease and desist from using the TRUP area as a political playground for gerrymandering ahead of the upcoming municipal elections.
5. The City of Cape Town and its officials commit publicly to recognising public land as a Public Commons that cannot be sold off for financial gain or to benefit narrow personal interests.